The Perfect Chilly Weather for the 21st Chili Ride

written by Mona Will - January 2016

At 11A on January 1st, the first volunteers of the day had arrived at Psi Ote Barn to begin the set up for “the chilly”. Susan Hunt, Cheryl Matthews, Keith LeFort and myself started unloading vehicles that were packed full of supplies that is used annually. It was about 1130A when the first participants of the ride showed up. It was Mike and Carol who were new members signing up that day. They were sporting all the necessary clothes for a winter weather ride. Phil had begun setting up the public address system so that those inside and outside the barn would be able to hear his upcoming announcements. By about 1215P there was a steady stream of cyclists walking in and out of the barn. The excitement of the ride was evident by the rising volume of voices. The registration desk had brisk business between handing out the route map, the detour cue sheet and asking people to sign the waiver form. Chili was arriving by the crockpots and being tagged for the chili cook off that would take place while the riders were out on the route.

The barn emptied and soon afterwards came the familiar voice of Phil Snider announcing “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, let the ride begin.” One hundred and twenty seven registered cyclists, along with 6 inline skaters slowly began to roll out of the parking lot and on to Parnell St heading south for the 15 or 25 mile route. 

The esteemed cook-off judges-Mike Heyes, Keith LeFort and Rob Pelance were given score sheets and began the task of tasting 13 different chili submissions. When the tasting was finished and the scores were added up there was a first place winner, with his bourbon butterscotch sweet heat made by Robin Mitchell, second place venison chili made by Rudy Schmidtke and a three way tie for third with Krista Stockman’s white chicken chili, John Grabowski’s chili and a man who left before I could get his name who made a vegetarian chili. Prizes and ribbons were given to all winners that were present.

chili judges

The riders returned with red faces, cold hands and/or toes and an appetite. The crockpots were emptied in quick order as did  the cornbread made by Susan Hunt. The cacophony of voices indicated a fun time had been had by many. Stories abounded at the tables about the day’s ride, the stop to see the polar bears jump in the river, what number this ride made for how many times he or she had ridden in the chilly and how the previous year’s injury had healed in time to ride once again.

As quickly as the barn had filled, it emptied. Crockpots were sitting empty, numerous emptied hot dog packages were stacked in the trash cans, only a quarter of the hot water dispenser was left with 2 cups of hot chocolate sitting near it and only crumbs remained on the plates that were once filled with sliced cornbread. 

Volunteers Brad Smith, Jennifer Bryant Altherr, Tania Glass, Kathi Heyes and a guy that I didn’t ask for his name, made the clean up a breeze. By 5PM, Cheryl and Mona walked out the barn door and turned around to watch Susan lock the door. I thought to myself “No order people like going on this ride. This was a fun time.”